SPOILER WARNING: This article contains, naturally, major spoilers for "Captain America: Civil War," in theaters now.
Two years after "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," star Chris Evans, directing team Joe & Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely are all back on board for the freshly released "Captain America: Civil War," which has already earned hundreds of millions worldwide, along with attracting nearly universally positive reviews. With more superheroes per capita than any Marvel Studios film yet, "Civil War" acts as a culmination of the stories that have preceded it in the now 13-film strong Marvel Cinematic Universe -- and, of course, sets the stage for what's next.
So while there are plenty of answers delivered during the course of "Civil War" -- like what exactly pits #TeamCap against #TeamIronMan -- there are, inevitably, even more questions raised by the film, as part of Marvel Studios' comic book-esque serialized, shared universe strategy that has made the franchise such a success. It'll likely be a while before most of these are answered, as the next Marvel Studios film, November's "Doctor Strange," looks to head in a very un-Avengers-like direction. But that's not stopping us from asking now, and at least speculating as to what the answers might be.
What happens to Cap's shield?
Lying broken, beaten and defeated, Iron Man calls out to Cap in anguish as he walks away from their fight, screaming that Howard Stark made the shield and that it doesn't belong to him. Cap throws the shield to the ground in front of him and swiftly exits, followed by Bucky -- and that's the last we see of Captain America's iconic shield in the film. Does this mean the shield is still in Tony's possession? Did he leave it there? Did he bring it back with him to the Avengers bunker? When "Avengers: Infinity War" (or whatever it ends up being titled) rolls around, will he hand it back to Steve as a symbol of their mended partnership? (Meagan Damore)
Who are Captain America's Avengers?
The film ends with Tony reading a letter from Steve, one that includes Captain America apologizing for his actions and promising Iron Man that the Avengers will be there if he ever needs them. But that letter is read over a montage of a just off-camera Cap breaking his teammates out of the Raft and, well, we don't see exactly who his Avengers are. We know that Vision remains at the Avengers compound with Iron Man and War Machine, and the mid-credits scene reveals that Bucky has gone back into hibernation. It's easy to assume that Cap's team includes the Raft prisoners: Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Ant-Man. Could it also include Black Widow, whose whereabouts remain unknown? And another sub-question: will we learn who's on the team before the next "Avengers" film in 2018? (Brett White)
Was this Baron Zemo's origin?â€¨
Unlike his decidedly more flamboyant comic book counterpart, the Zemo we see in "Civil War" is comparatively subdued. He's depicted as a grieving family man with a methodical mind and unrelenting thirst for vengeance -- ethics and morals be damned. While Zemo's definitely ruthless, he's not the purple-mask-wearing supervillain fans know from the comics. But could "Civil War" be the first step towards a more comic-accurate Zemo? There is precedent; "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" introduced Brock Rumlow as a sleeper Hydra agent in S.H.I.E.L.D. and ended with the character experiencing the trauma that led to him taking up the Crossbones mantle in "Civil War." Zemo ends the film as a prisoner under maximum security, so a return appearance is not out of the question. If he does come back, will his time behind bars (or more accurately, unbreakable glass) have transformed him into the costume-wearing schemer fans know? (Brett White)
Will James Rhodes ever be War Machine again?
Rhodey was one of the major casualties of "Civil War," being shot out of the sky thanks to an errant blast from Vision -- a shot that was actually meant for Team Cap member Falcon. Though the trailers left fans fearing the worst -- the War Machine might be killed off, as a victim of the hero versus hero conflict -- he survived the fall, albeit facing partial paralysis and a long road to recovery. Is this the end of his superheroing career? Given that it's the Marvel Cinematic Universe and just about anything is possible, it's likely too early to count War Machine down for the count permanently -- and as one of the few visible Black superheroes in film and TV, here's hoping he retains a prominent role going forward. (Albert Ching)
Where is Black Widow?
â€¨In a move befitting her pragmatic nature, Black Widow broke from her bond with Team Iron Man at the close of "Civil War's" tarmac fight by letting Captain America and Bucky escape in a Quinjet. Romanoff made the move for the larger good and after seeing the level of discord caused by the infighting. When last we see Black Widow, though, she's being taken to task by a betrayed Tony Stark who tells her that she will be prosecuted for her actions under the new laws. But when we visit the Raft prison where the rest of Team Cap is being held captive, Black Widow isn't among them. She's also not in the Avengers compound, nor is she shown by Captain America's side. With her bridges to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers burned, we're left wondering where Natasha Romanoff will show up next, and whose side she'll be on. (Brett White)
Where is Sharon Carter?
Though she had a limited appearance in the film, Sharon Carter had a big role to play. She's the one who keyed Cap and Falcon into Bucky's psych evaluation, traded blows with the Winter Soldier and stole Cap's shield and Falcon's wings back for them when they were on the run. Before she disappears for the rest of the time, she even sends Cap off with a big kiss. Yet during her last meeting with Team Cap, she also admits that she'll be on the hook as well, now that she's helped out a group of fugitives. By the end of the film, Team Cap is still on the run, which means Sharon should also still be in trouble with the law. What happens to her? Is there a warrant for her arrest? Did she manage to evade capture? Where is she now? (Meagan Damore)
What has Spider-Man gotten up to thus far?
For the first time ever, fans have a live-action Spider-Man that isn't the only superhero in his world. In fact, he's one of many, and one of the youngest and most inexperienced -- though he holds his own in the big airport fight, he clearly is in awe of the sheer scope of what's going on around him (to be fair, who wouldn't be?). Since this Spidey lives among other superheroes and supervillains, how much has he experienced in his crimefighting career up to this point? Has he solely stuck to Friendly Neighborhood status around Queens and stopping muggers and burglars, or has he ran into a low-level supervillain or two, like, say, the Shocker or the Enforcers? Of course, there are plenty of other questions, like, how did the spider bite go down? It's a clever -- and, given the size of the cast, likely necessary -- move to introduce a Spider-Man that is already in the early swing of his superhero career, and it leaves plenty of blanks for next year's "Spider-Man: Homecoming" to fill. (Albert Ching)
Will the Sokovia Accords affect the characters of the Marvel Television shows, like Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage?
The Sokovia Accords impacts all of the enhanced characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not just the Avengers. For instance, we know it'll affect "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," as the super secret spy organization debates whether or not to register its Inhuman agents. But what does this mean for Marvel's street-level heroes like Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage? Each of these characters have superpowers, though some -- like Jessica Jones -- are far more open about it than others. Will Jessica Jones' superpowered status affect her business? Will the government hunt Daredevil down? Is this one of the reasons Luke Cage is on the run? How will Iron Fist factor into all of this? (Meagan Damore)
Do we still call him "Ant-Man"?
Now that we know Scott Lang is capable of growing to heights equal to Paul Rudd's likeability as well as shrinking to, well, ant size, audiences will probably expect to see at least a little bit of that in subsequent films, like 2018's "Ant-Man and The Wasp." But does the "Ant-Man" name still cover it? Will he start calling himself "Giant-Man," which his predecessor Hank Pym was long known by in Marvel Comics -- or maybe a more size-neutral identity? Or will the MCU brain trust devise a reason why he can't grow any more, to keep his power level in check? After all, it didn't seem like it was too easy on the guy, what with fainting in the lab the first time he tried it. (Albert Ching)
What is Wanda's connection to the Mind Stone?
It's no secret that Scarlet Witch received her abilities from the Mind Stone. However, as she discusses with the Vision, she has no real idea what that means -- and neither does he. In "Civil War," we learned just a bit more about her powers when she and the Vision went toe-to-toe at the Avengers' base of operations. When she hexed him, the Infinity Stone on his forehand visibly dulled and he sank to the floor as his mass grew denser. Of course, this is one of the Vision's innate abilities, where Wanda's powers have more of a telekinetic and telepathic spin and are often paired with a red-tinted effect -- which is absent here. It seems that, for a brief instant, she controlled his abilities and turned them against him. Is this a new ability? Is it indicative of her connection to the Vision? Is her connection to the Mind Stone more of a two-way street than we might have initially suspected? Does this mean she can control the Mind Stone? (Meagan Damore)
Will we see Bucky in "Black Panther"?
â€¨"Civil War" ends with a robot arm-less Bucky voluntarily entering hibernation out of fear that he'll once again be turned into a weapon. The former Winter Soldier is last seen in the African nation of Wakanda, the land ruled by Black Panther. It's been confirmed that Sebastian Stan has a nine-picture deal with Marvel, and he has six of those films remaining following the completion of the "Captain America" trilogy. With him in deep freeze at the end of "Civil War" and no more solo "Cap" films in sight, one has to wonder what those other six films could be. It's possible that one could be the 2018 solo "Black Panther" film, which will be directed by "Creed's" Ryan Coogler and will star Chadwick Boseman. The mid-credits scene does end with Steve Rogers warning T'Challa that if the world learns where Bucky is, they'll come for him. That could be a jumping off point for "Black Panther's" conflict, although it's equally likely that Marvel will want to launch that franchise in a standalone manner that isn't connected so heavily to a previous Marvel movie. Still, Bucky is right there in Wakanda just in case Black Panther needs to unthaw an ally. (Brett White)
Will Secretary of State Ross continue to have a presence in the MCU?
"Civil War" was not General Ross' first appearance in the MCU; a longstanding Hulk character, William Hurt first appeared in the role eight years ago in "The Incredible Hulk." The character took on a more prominent role in the "Captain America" sequel, ushering in the Sokovia Accords and effectively becoming the Avengers' manager. This is a pretty prominent role for the character, but can we expect it to stay this way? The Sokovia Accords were certainly still in effect at the end of the film; he was even on the phone with Tony during the last scene. It's safe to assume the Avengers will continue to have UN oversight on their missions. Will Ross continue to have a tangential role in the MCU, or will he step into more power as the films continue? Will he pass the torch onto someone else -- like Martin Freeman's Everett K. Ross, maybe? If he does stay on, will he continue to butt heads with Tony? (Meagan Damore)
What's the deal with Everett K. Ross?
Everett K. Ross -- who was an American diplomat to Wakanda in the comics -- had a few interesting appearances in the film, as played by Marvel newcomer Martin Freeman. He appears to be firmly on the side of the Sokovia Accords, though he's seen persecuting Zemo towards the end of the film. Did the circumstances of the film sway him more to Team Cap, or did it reinforce his ties to Team Iron Man? Will he be stepping into a bigger role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Will he appear in "Black Panther" in 2018? Though they're two entirely separate characters in the comics, does the MCU Everett K. Ross have any ties to Secretary of State Ross? (Meagan Damore)
The Dean from Community now works at MIT?
Yep, that was Jim Rash -- Oscar-winning screenwriter and Dean Pelton on "Community," the beloved sitcom that "Civil War" directors Joe and Anthony Russo worked on extensively in its six-season run -- talking to Tony Stark in that early scene set at MIT. Clearly, the only reasonable conclusion is that his mostly incompetent "Community" character somehow endeaned himself into a much higher-profile gig. Between this and Danny Pudi's cameo in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the Russos are 2-for-2 for "Community" cameos in their Marvel Studios films -- which significantly increases hopes of "Avengers: Infinity War" being Britta'd. (Also, was that the Bluth family stair car in the airport scene?) (Albert Ching)
"Captain America: Civil War" is in theaters now.